The need to appreciate the patriotic labour of some Nigerians to their fatherland in sports and to give upcoming athletes the sense of belonging that their service to the nation would not be in vain has made the Nigerian Olympians Association (NOA) to institute an award to notable Nigerian sports heroes and legends.
The award ceremony, which is scheduled for Abuja ion 24 July, is holding, beginning from this year, to celebrate these heroes.
President of NOA, former Nigerian basketball international, who had also played in the NBA for three seasons, said that it is high timer the narrative is changed to reflect reward for excellence and patriotism in Nigerian athletes.
Oyedeji said the award ceremony is part of the activities the Olympians association is putting together to celebrate 2021 Olympic Day.
He said: “The Olympic Day holds on 23 July where we will be having Olympic Forum to discuss pertinent issues affecting sports development in Nigeria. We also plan to mobilise Nigerian Olympians on a match to the National Assembly.
” On 24 July, however, we are going to hold a banquet dinner where 15 Olympians, our heroes and legends, will be honoured, awarded and celebrated.
“For the celebration of the Olympic Day, we have put in place a Local Organising Committee (LOC) headed by our immediate past president, Apostle Henry Amike which has since swung into action for us to have a memorable celebration.
” The Honourable Minister of Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare and the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) are in the known of what we are doing and they approved this. We are also looking forward to their support, as well as support from well meaning Nigeria and corporate organisations. We are determined to see to the success of this event as we have been able to get to this level through personal contributions of the executive of the NOA.”
Speaking on the criteria used to arrive at the 15 awardees, Oyedeji said a three-man committee of respected media practitioners was saddled with this responsibility, adding that the committee took into consideration pacesetting and contribution of such awardees to Nigeria sports since 1952 till now.
“We are expecting a lot of dignitaries both within and outside the country for the award ceremony. The president of World Olympian Association (WOA) has expressed his willingness to be part of the ceremony, while we will have in attendance Nigerian Olympians in Diaspora.
“It is going to be a historic event, the fist of its kind in Nigeria. We cannot fold our arms and do nothing to appreciate and celebrate our Olympians who had done this country proud in their choosing sporting careers and as role models, we should be able to change the mindset of our upcoming athletes that it pays to dorn the colours of Nigeria in international arena,” he said.